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I love where I live. With Sonoma’s breathtaking beauty among her rolling hills, picturesque vineyards, and the close-knit community I am blessed to call home, it's easy to say I love what I do. As a real estate professional and food writer, Sonoma Dish endeavors to share with you my enthusiasm for living the wine country lifestyle.



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  • Writer's picture Therese Nugent

Be The Party You Want To Attend In the World - 7 Holiday Hosting Hacks For the Best Party Ever

It’s that time of year again and you’re on the hook to throw one of the many holiday parties popping up now and through the New Year. Social obligations not withstanding, the party circuit can leave even the most seasoned host feeling overwhelmed. For maximum holiday awesomeness, here are some tips to help you simplify the hosting duties while still being a guest at your own party.

1. KISS (Keep It Simple Santa).

Make only easy and impressive food and have plenty of it. Three words: finger foods only. Serve oven-ready (and store-bought) appetizers transformed with garnishes of fresh herbs, nuts, and winter fruits. Dish up savory spreads for dipping beautifully colored fresh vegetables and create a killer cheese board one would think was personally designed by Dean & DeLuca. (More about that later.)

2. Lose the Cocktail Shaker.

Custom cocktails? No way. Big-batch beverages are crowd pleasers and guests like that they can help themselves. Instead of fussing with multiple liquors and mixers, plan a punchbowl cocktail and spare everyone the decision-making stress. In large pitchers, combine cranberry or pomegranate juice, simple syrup, and Grand Marnier and mix in sparkling wine. Stir in fresh cranberries and pomegranate arils and sprigs of fresh rosemary. Be sure to have plenty of sparkling and still water on hand with garnishes of lemon and lime. Ample refreshments are key. Provide multiple drink stations to keep the party and the drinks flowing.

3. Manage the Mood.

There’s nothing like bright lights to mess with the mood. The dimmer and softer the lighting the better. Create some party ambience by turning down the overhead lighting and replace with votive candles all around to give off a warm glow. String battery-operated mini twinkle lights at the bar and among your food buffet…anything to set a softer mood.

4. Manage the Mood II.

Nothing sets the tone of the party like the tunes. To infuse holiday cheer into your party, mix traditional holiday music with some modern favorites. Create a festive and upbeat playlist that includes jazzy holiday favorites mixed up with jazz and R&B.

5. Work Some Behind the Scenes Olfactory Magic.

So potpourri is still a thing—this time of year anyway. You will instantly make people feel cozy, happy, and in the mood with the waft of a seasonal scent. If that’s not your thing, a few drops of a quality pine-scented essential oil on a bowl full of pinecones is a wonderful mood setter and natural scent diffuser. And on that note, remember to crack open a window to bring in some fresh, cool air into the party space as the atmosphere will heat up.

6. Tie Seasonal Elements Into Your Décor.

Instead of showcasing a large formal floral arrangement, purchase a large bouquet of flowers and break the bunch into lots of little ones. Use petite, inexpensive vases sourced at the dollar store and place all around. Float fresh cranberries in mason jars around candles and weave fresh, fragrant evergreen garland across your table setting for an impressive yet inexpensive centerpiece. Bowls of fresh winter fruits (think citrus, pears and pomegranates) add a pop of color and are cost-effective ways to decorate that go a long way.

7. Last But Not Least.

Have plenty of ice on hand, make sure there’s enough toilet paper and hand towels in the bathrooms, and designate an area for coat and handbag drop-off. Best hack of all? A happy host. If you’re relaxed and having a good time, your guests will, too. Fair warning: if you throw an amazing holiday party, you may have to make it an annual tradition.


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